Mythological Spotlight #7 – Kuk

Kuk (right) and his wife Kauket (left), depicted in The Book of Doors

Kuk (right) and his wife Kauket (left), depicted in The Book of Doors

Description

Kuk is an ancient Egyptian deity of darkness, obscurity and the unknown. He is part of a very ancient pair of primordial deities known as the Ogdoad, alongside his wife and female counterpart Kauket. Together, they are embodiments of a state of darkness that existed before the time of creation. Kuk is also known to go by the names Kek or Keku.

 

History

The Ogdoad were a group of primordial deities worshipped in the city of Khmun (Hermopolis) in Egypt during the Old Kingdom period. They consisted of eight deities: Amun, Nun, Kuk and Huh and their respective wives Amunet, Naunet, Kauket and Hauhet. Each of them represented elements of the state of primordial chaos that preceded the creation of the world according to Egyptian mythology. Amun and Amunet represented air, invisibility and hidden things, Nun and Nunet represented the primordial waters and the abysss, Kek and Kauket represented the darkness and obscurity and Huh and Hauhet represented eternity and the infinite space. The male deities were symbolized by the frog and were depicted as frog-headed deities, while the female deities were symbolized by the snake and were depicted as snake headed deities. Of course that is how they are usually depicted. Sometimes they were depicted as geese or baboons.

The creation myth goes as follows: the universe was originally a dark, watery and directionless chaos, inhabited by snakes and frogs. The qualities of this primordial chaos were represented by the deities of the Ogdoad, and these deities were the rulers of this chaos who renewed the primordial waters. It was believed that they created a primordial mound upon which an egg was laid, which then hatched into – depending on what version of the myth – either the sun deity Ra, the creator deity Atum or a scarab beetle representing the Sun. In either case, light was brought to the universe and the cosmos was forged, which brought about order. It is said that afterwards the deities died and passed into the underworld, or Duat, where they supported the flow of the Nile river and the rise of the sun.

In Hermopolis, the cult of the Ogdoad was eventually displaced in prominence by the cult of Djehuti (Thoth), the more popular deity of magic, wisdom, knowledge and the moon. Incidentally, there is a version of the creation myth which supposes that the egg laid upon the primordial mound was laid by an ibis, the sacred bird of Djehuti.

You would think that this would be where the story ends. But no. In the modern age, it seems that the deity Kuk has been elevated by Internet culture.

In November 2015, someone on 4chan posted about Kuk and his mythological background. Four months later, someone on Reddit submitted a macro identifying Kuk as Kek (which probably actually refers to the slang word “kek”, but also happens to another name of Kuk) and associating him with Pepe the Frog, Donald Trump and the concept of “memetic magic”. Over time the meme grew and grew within 4chan, and eventually an online parody religion known as the Cult of Kek emerged. The Cult identifies Kek as, according to their Facebook page, the one true god of chaos, darkness, obscurity and”dubs”, believed to grant the wishes of those who end their posts in a series of repeating numbers. Kek is also identified with Pepe the Frog, the latter often considered by the Cult to be a modern avatar of Kek. Members of the cult talk on 4chan about how meme magic supposedly affects the real world, particularly the current American presidential election cycle. Kek is also associated with the number 7, due to its sacred significance in many cultures.

Because Trump’s supporters have embraced the Pepe meme, and because much of 4chan, particularly /pol/ have embraced Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the mainstream media have decided to demonize the Pepe meme by attaching him to white nationalism and white supremacism, drawing ridicule from much of the Internet. It also generated a response in the form of an article about Pepe and the Cult of Kek, apparently explaining the full story of the origins of Pepe and the Cult of Kek. Before that, Hillary Clinton had a speech in Reno where went on an on about the alt-right, according to her vapid old mind anyway, and from there Trump supporters from Milo Yiannopoulos to more recently Palmer Luckey, the CEO of Oculus VR, were slapped with very liberal usage of the term alt-right regardless of the actual substance of their views. This invariably brought the alt-right and Pepe more attention, leading of course to Pepe’s demonization by the media. Now Pepe seems to have gained certain political prominence among those who oppose Clinton and/or support Trump.

 

Conclusion

The Cult of Kek is, without a doubt, one of my favorite developments in modern culture. People on 4chan have taken an ancient deity, a relatively obscure deity of primordial chaos and darkness that was supplanted in prominence by other deities no less, and through an invented mythology elevated him into a prominent modern cultural icon through Pepe the Frog. This icon is aligned against polite society and mainstream culture, due to its association with 4chan and Trump. Kek is thus an icon of a modern counter-culture, and thus rebellion. In doing so, I dare say they have inducted Kek as the newest member of the infernal pantheon, and for that I can’t help but smile in glee.

All hail the dark lord Kek! Praise Kek!

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The Guardian, British politics, and why once again I’d rather be in America

Last night I became aware of a post from the Guardian where the author presumes to claim that to have free speech is poisonous to our democracy. The idea is that because there are trolls out there who sling abuse, express “hateful” or politically incorrect views on the Internet, or send death threats, then the Internet and freedom of speech are a threat to our democracy – which is stupid. It was part of a series of articles called “the web we want”, dedicated to “ending online abuse”. And as others have noticed, it’s nothing more than a way to showcase their inability to handle any speech that isn’t sanitized to their liking or ideologically agreeable. And if you think that’s bogus, consider that the Guardian actually published a quiz where you play a moderator and decide which comments to block and see how they stack up against what the Guardian moderators think – should you answer “Allow” to the responses, you can find out that the Guardian comprises of people block public comments on the basis of ideological difference, or even on the basis of criticizing the Guardian’s credibility as a news source. Below are examples.

 

Also, they recently vilified Stephen Fry as a privileged asshat for criticizing trigger warnings as oppressive – oh, and they tried to say it was about child sex abuse. That they go out of their way to vilify someone as privileged because of their opinion, along with that article about free speech “poisoning” democracy.

I was genuinely shocked and disheartened to see a British, and supposedly liberal, paper openly endorse articles that campaign against freedom of speech and against the right of others even to offend. That is until I remembered that the Guardian actually had an article as recently as two weeks ago where in the central platform was that the Internet is exclusively teeming with hatred if uncensored on the basis of the Microsoft Tay fiasco (you know, that chatbot learning AI that was a stupid idea anyway). And only months ago, I distinctly remember a Guardian journalist claiming that banning porn on campuses somehow gave students more freedom of choice, which is not just stupid, only makes sense if you believe that war is peace, slavery is freedom, and ignorance is strength. Seriously: banning porn actually increases freedom of choice? You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.

But honestly, shit like The Guardian just makes me convulse at the state of British politics – a state that has this illiberal pile of journalistic excrement masquerade as the conscience of the British press and supposedly liberal British society, where brainwashed souls preach the “evils” of liberty and how “good” it is to punish those whose views are “below the line”. Again, people who believe that war is peace, slavery is freedom, ignorance is strength and, in their case, censorship is freedom of speech and victimhood is righteousness.

To me it kind of makes sense in the UK because our political culture, at least in my opinion, isn’t like America’s – otherwise, more people besides liberals and libertarians like myself would be outraged by the literal denouncing of freedom of speech. I can’t help thinking that if this were America and an it was American paper or pundit who denounced freedom of speech in the name of public good, in no unclear terms (and I say that because sometimes politicians can get away with all kinds of bullshit if they hide it or dress it up well enough), then literally almost everyone would be against that paper or pundit.

For most Americans, freedom of speech is like one of the laws of nature, at least in the public consciousness. This is because the United States of America enshrines freedom of speech as part of its Constitution, and that Constitution is powerful in the minds of every American who isn’t one of those Christians who thinks the word of “God” trumps that Constitution – it’s even got some real meaning in my mind, and I’m not even originally from America. I admire that, and I have admired it always. It’s like an oath that politicians can easily be held accountable to by the people and the Supreme Court if they try to mess with civil liberties. What’s more, while America is certainly not perfect, in my mind it’s probably the only country that set out to establish itself on the modern ideal of liberty from birth – that was the goal of those Founding Fathers who created a new nation in 1776. I deeply admire that too. America hasn’t had a history of always living up to liberty and justice for all, but in our hearts and minds at least we know this is a genuine betrayal of values because we know those values have been at the heart of the nation’s vision from the beginning. As long as the people believe in liberty, and it’s clear in their minds that liberty is under attack, they don’t stand for it.

In the UK, as far as I know we don’t have anything as binding and powerful as the US Constitution. To me, we are only partly a liberal, secular society, and we have a parliamentary government whose members to me only endorses freedom what it suits them, and usually it’s just us liberals and libertarians, and a few papers and journalistic outfits, who are against that. And in this country, the police can sometimes arrest you for offensive speech (like in the case of Matthew Doyle), and the police in some parts even think they have the power to police online speech (like in Glasgow for instance). To me, The Guardian are now only acting as a voice for an illiberal political establishment in the UK – a voice that’s polite enough to appeal to the.

Also, the main powers of our government are unscrupulous vampiric conservatives and often vaguely illiberal socialists, or at least they seem illiberal to me; under Ed Miliband they actually agreed to Tory censorship of the Internet, Gordon Brown’s administration asked their former drugs adviser David Nutt to leave for challenging the government’s drug policy (he suggested drugs like cannabis should be reclassified because they are less dangerous than alcohol and tobacco), and even now there’s quite a few Labour MPs who’ve had a tendency to endorse illiberal policies such as blasphemy laws and maintaining the criminalizing of prostitution, the latter especially in the wake of Jeremy Corbyn’s statement that we would decriminalize prostitution. Then there’s Labour MPs who are just crazy. There’s actually a Labour MP named Aysegul Gurbuz who was recently suspended because she claimed Hitler was “the greatest man in history”, and another MP named Carolyn Harris who pulled the hair of her aide after she found out she was a lesbian. The Tories may be assholes, but Labour are sometimes not much better. Not to mention, Britain’s history is not one of a country that valued liberty, but of one that valued the absolute rule of monarchy under “God”, and even though we have a secular parliamentary government, we maintain a royal family that does nothing and has no business existing – this fact alone tells me that either we still endorse royalty as part of our British identity and heritage, or that it’s not clear where our values lie.

Those who know me might be able to imagine why I don’t feel I belong in such a culture. And in all truth, I would probably rather live in an imperfect country where liberty is still visibly enshrined as the highest ideal and has sought liberty from the beginning than a country than country that is supposedly secular and liberal but will embrace illiberalism when it suits them. No matter America’s imperfections, even it’s clownish political behavior, no matter how many times I’ve criticized it, it sometimes feel like I’d rather be in America than be immersed in Britain’s noise.

statue-of-liberty

Now if only immigration weren’t such a problem.

A decline of reason

I think future historians may yet look at this decade as utterly connected yet hopelessly divided – this is but a charitable description that I would offer for this current age.

Recent events concerning campus policing of speech and political expression, the police arresting people like Matthew Doyle for speaking “offensive” thoughts rather than committing any actual violations of other people’s right to life and liberty, and the media response to the transformation of Microsoft’s “chatbot” Tay from friendly artificial teenage girl to Nazi sexbot, among other phenomenon, have me pretty damned convinced that the Western world is going in a worrisome direction – one that will depart from the flame of intelligence.

With Tay specifically, I have to wonder who thought it was a good idea in the first place. But when I see the Guardian implying that the Tay fiasco justifies censorship, claiming that the internet is full of “the kind of material all genocides feed off” and “awash with anger, stereotypes and prejudice” and denouncing the right to offend as “a culture that sees offensive speech as a source of  amusement”, it just makes me think that certain people spend their miserable lives trawling the ugliest side of the Internet with no regard for the rest of the net. Also, I have to repeat myself, who thought Tay was a good idea anyway? Who thought that a “chatbot” learning AI on Twitter – freaking Twitter! – would be a good idea? The Internet may be full of nasty people, but the problem is not the Internet being uncensored but rather the fact that people are just awful anyway. With Doyle’s arrest, I see nothing more and nothing less than another chapter in the rise of mob mentality, the kind that we saw in the wake of one dentist killing a lion named Cecil. Only now I see that British law enforcement are not simply facilitating mob mentality – in this case at least, they’re actively sustaining themselves with it! I can see the death of justice arriving in a world that endorses mob mentality as justice, because justice is perverted, raped, and sacrificed because the people have deemed mere offensive speech a criminal act. Democracy in action, right?

It’s a disheartening phenomenon that Man tends to march towards group mentality, and now, in a world connected by computers and information, Man is more enamored in said group mentality than ever before –  and also, more enveloped in the foulest poisons of herd mentality. The human race in its current state is the largest herd in the entire animal kingdom, and those who try to exist as individuals or simply contradict that hard may lead difficult lives as the herd punishes them for their dissent but not for committing any actual crimes or violations of the right to life and liberty. In my opinion, this is all fueled by misinformation, ignorance, and a majority decision to not think for oneself, and I believe it can be fueled by much consumption of misinformation that isn’t processed by reason or an individual relationship with the information presented before them.

Be under no illusion: if I am right about this new direction, then this new direction is entirely at the behest of Man itself, rather than the work of shadowy forces seeking to undermine our species. We’re all too familiar with the notion of shady government conspiracies working to dumb down the mind in order to keep it under control. But in my eyes, this is what the people seem to asking for. They now choose weakness, rather than the individual pursuit of strength and balance, and decide that the world must protect their fragile being – having to grow strong on their own would probably kill them! Enlightenment would probably kill them! Man can be weak and ignorant enough as it is, but what we as a species are going through is frankly sickening. We can blame the media, the government, and the world all we like, but in truth the way we are going is Man’s fault. We have the freedom to choose our way, to move towards freedom, but we choose ignorance and the perpetuation of our own weakness instead. And why? Because we aren’t conscious of what freedom means. We aren’t conscientious enough to hold ourselves accountable and responsible, and that’s not good: because it’s only in a world where we are conscientious, accountable, and responsible that liberty can survive. I don’t just mean the government, I mean the people. In a world where we expect the world to protect our own weakness, we lose that conscientiousness, accountability, and responsibility, and with it we will inexorably lose our freedom.

All because Man too often does stupid things, and then when we do them we blow them out of proportion. All because we are somehow convinced that we cannot function as adults with being coddled by a “good shepherd” or by guardians of all that is good. All because we are weak in the face of aggression from those who we clearly have the power to ignore and cry to the world instead of cultivating the strength to keep it together or rise above it, let alone fight back. And in this age we will not succeed in achieving a safe, friendly world. All we will do is either create a sanitized world where there is no liberty, or simply bring malignant and destructive habits upon our world – and we know for a fact that this is not the whole of what Man is capable of doing.